BY ISAAC NICHOLAS
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has created history in asking Pacific Island leaders to the APEC leaders meeting in Port Moresby.
“I know Australia, New Zealand and PNG are active members of APEC, but there are also countries within the Pacific region that have their own story to tell,” Mr O’Neill said. He said this when he led the Pacific leaders to a reception dinner hosted by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Australian High Commission residence on Monday evening. Pacific leaders who attended included Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Malielegaoi, Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and Prime Ministers of the Solomon Islands, Tonga, the Cook Islands and Ministers.
“I would like to thank the Pacific leaders for joining us here at the margins of the APEC meeting. Again to bring the Pacific Island leaders’ to APEC is that we don’t want to be forgotten out of the APEC community,” Mr O’Neill said.
“I don’t know why these meetings, side meetings have never taken place before, because when they go and host meetings in other regions in Asia, South America or North America they bring all the other regional groupings to come in and have meetings with them but for the Pacific it never happened.
“And hopefully that will be a start of that process and I want to thank Prime Minister of Australia and the Prime Minister of New Zealand for the strong support in making sure that APEC is done and all the leaders are here is to understand the APEC process and APEC brings a lot of opportunities and if we do not tell our story to the powerful APEC community then we miss the boat.
“So we are able to do that and I know that and the initiative that the United States had taken to start participating with us and through some of the programs that we initiated and my meeting with Pence (US Vice-President), I put to him that we see a lot of undersea cable across the Pacific to America and why is it difficult that none of our Pacific island countries do not tap into it and the assistance to do that.”